Put it up in the lights, so that you can rub it in our faces. Below are the official prognostications of the "professionals" here at BearsIllustrated. Take them to the bank, or at least to the coin laundry.
Tim Watkins – Staff Writer
With the loss of several marquee talents and a once in a generation type athlete for most schools, Baylor fans are bracing for a step back. But how big of a step will it be? There are "experts" out there saying a 5 win season will be a good year for a Griffin-less Baylor squad. I am not buying it. Art Briles is a winner and will lead this team to its third bowl in a row, a first for the Baylor program.
The Bears have some big questions though, especially on the defensive line. If the defense can make even a decent amount of improvement upon what they have been the last 2 seasons, the Bears should be in around a toss-up in most of their games. I too believe that there are just two games that we can probably assume are losses going into the season, @ West Virginia and @ Oklahoma. Both of those teams are the favorites according to most people to win the Big 12, and I can't really disagree.
With the schedule turning over and changing several winnable games last year at home to very tough road games, this years' schedule is very difficult. Last year, we went undefeated at home, and beat conference foes Iowa State, Missouri, and Oklahoma at home. This year we have Kansas, TCU, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. We will have to beat 3 teams that are ranked in the top 25. Our road games might give us one win as well, with Iowa State being the most likely joining Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia, all ranked in the top 15.
So, with a harder schedule, and the loss of 6 players to the NFL, what can we actually fully expect from the Bears? I feel the Bears will be favored in the games against SMU, Sam Houston State, ULM, Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech. However, Iowa State is very tough to beat in Ames, and the Bears have struggled there in the past. To get 5 wins from those 6 is a good expectation.
There are then several games that I feel could go either way including TCU, Texas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Hopefully the Bears will get at least one of these for their 6th win and the bowl game. But hey, I am a greedy fan, so what do I know. Give me two Utah!
The final two games are against Oklahoma and West Virginia, and it would be a HUGE upset for the Bears to win either of these, especially being the first Big 12 visitor to visit WVU and its fans. I am not willing to say either one of those will be wins at this point.
So its 7 wins and another bowl game for the Bears. Put me down for another visit to Houston for the Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl, and hopefully a much better showing against whatever the Big 10 can offer.
Steve Brischke – Site Administrator
Many predictions for the Bears this season, both from local homers to national skeptics, range somewhere in between Baylor completely falling off the map with the loss of personnel from last year's team to a repeat of what we saw in the 2011 season. I am somewhere in between.
The Bears return plenty of weapons on offense, including an offensive line with at least 3 future pros and a senior experienced quarterback. While it would be difficult to equal what last year's Baylor offense did, it would also be difficult to find teams with the combination of offensive talent that Baylor will bring to the field.
The question mark for the Bears will be defense, and we simply won't know the result of the extra year in Coach Bennett's system until we truly see it on the field. My gut tells me that they will be improved slightly from last season, but that they are at least another year away from being fully indoctrinated into Coach Bennett's style and scheme and the accompanying results he has always produced.
With that said, I predict the Bears will go 8-4 in the regular season. I think they get by SMU this weekend, and start the year 3-0. From there, the 2 toughest conference games are at Oklahoma and at West Virginia. There are a handful of toss-up games in the middle, and then a couple of games that they should win, such as at home against the Kansas Jayhawks. Last time Coach Briles coached a 10 win team at Houston, he followed that up with an 8 win team the following year.
A trip back to a bowl game with the 2nd best record Coach Briles has produced during his time in Waco would have to be considered a success by any reasonable measure. It should be another fun year in Waco!
Chris Bullajian – Publisher
The Bears need to continue climbing while maintaining the momentum they created with a historic 2011 season. The offense should be in good hands with senior QB Nick Florence running the show and some of the most exciting wide receivers in the country involved in Art Briles offense.
The big question is can the Bears improve enough on defense to make a difference this season. The Bears made clutch plays in clutch situations last season on the defensive side of things, but the overall numbers defiintiely leave room for improvement.
I think the Bears continue to maintain the momentum they created, and the Bears go bowling for the third consecutive season. I don't think the Bears reach the 10-win plateau of last season.
The Bears will win 7 games and leave the Baylor faithful content with another winning season.